May 24, 2008

1991: Super Mario Brings Cup To Pittsburgh

The year is 1990. It took Mario Lemieux 7 years to make the playoffs, but here in just his second post season, he would lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to the first of two consecutive Stanley Cups.

Lemieux was undeniably the MVP of the playoffs, registering 44 points, just 3 shy of Wayne Gretzky's single playoff record. "Le Magnifique" scored 16 goals and 28 assists, despite playing with a bad back that caused him to miss game 3 of the finals against the Minnesota North Stars. Lemieux's back was so bad that not only did he miss 54 games in the regular season but he relied on a trainer to tie his skate laces for him.

Despite the severe back pains, Mario was still able to score one of the most famous goals in NHL history:

Two words: Super Mario.

Lemieux had help, most notably from new comers Ron Francis and Ulf Sameulsson. The superstar center and stud defensive defenseman came over from Hartford at the trade deadline in one of the rare trade deadline blockbusters that actually resulted in a Stanley Cup parade. Both were integral parts to both Penguins championships.

And let's not forget Joe Mullen, Larry Murphy, Kevin Stevens, Mark Recchi, Paul Coffey, Tom Barrasso, a veteran Bryan Trottier and a young Jaromir Jagr.

Not a bad collection of superstars surrounding the most talented hockey player of all time. But this was Lemieux's shining moment. As Minnesota player Dave Gagner said: "When somebody that big and that good wants to win that badly, there isn't much you can do."

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